Heart disease is an epidemic as the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports around 715,000 Americans suffer a heart attack each year. While chest pain is recognized as a major heart attack symptom, there are other major symptoms that need to be recognized.
Heart Attack Defined
A heart attack usually occurs when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood through an artery that feeds blood to the heart. This may cause permanent damage to the heart muscle if not treated quickly. The most common cause of heart attacks is atherosclerosis or the buildup of plaque in the arteries. Less commonly, heart attacks can also occur as a result of very low blood pressure, drug use, a tear in the heart artery and small blood clots that travel to the heart from other parts of the body. Understanding the typical and not so obvious symptoms when a heart attack is occurring can be a matter of life and death.
Symptoms of a Heart Attack
• Severe chest pain, pressure or tightness in the middle of the chest that lasts for
more than a few minutes or goes away and then comes back; sometimes mistaken for
• Shortness of breath
• Pain that spreads to shoulders, neck, arms or jaw
• Cold sweat or sweating
• Feeling of indigestion, choking or heartburn
• Nausea or vomiting
• Feeling dizzy, light-headed or extremely weak
• Rapid or irregular heart beats
Warning signs for Women
• Sudden onset of weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting,
indigestion, body aches or overall feeling of illness
• Unusual feeling or mild discomfort in the back, chest, arm, neck or jaw without chest
• Sleep disturbance
Always call 911 when you begin to have any symptoms of a heart attack. The key is to listen to your body and seek immediate medical treatment.
Written by: Beth Stefura, M Ed, RD, LD. Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, Crossroads EERA, stefura.2@osu.
Reviewed by: Cynthia R. Shuster, CFLE, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, Buckeye Hills EERA, email@example.com
Reviewed by: Jennifer Lindimore, Office Associate, Ohio State University Extension, Morgan County, Buckeye Hills EERA, firstname.lastname@example.org